Saturday, December 12, 2009

Raindrops and Leaves

It's raining - cold, tiny drops that wish they were snowflakes. I lift my face to the cloudy skies and smile, the droplets wetting my face. I stick out my tongue, as if to catch a snowflake, but the rain avoids it, an errant drop falling into my eye. I blink and shake my head like a wet dog.

I wish it would snow. I like snow, though we rarely get it here. The squeaky, crunching sound it makes under my boots, the soft coldness of it as I form it into a ball to throw at a sibling. The intricacies of each unique flake, born for but a moment - a crystal design for one second before it melts away on my arm. To think that each snowflake, each unique and perfect ice crystal, was designed by God, personally designed by God, for an express purpose. This one to melt on my tongue, that one on my arm, those thousand to be balled together and thrown at a sibling, who laughs, their cheeks glowing red in the cold.

At the other end of the leash in my hand, the dog stops, literally pulling me back to reality. I rub my thumb against the black leather, the leash warm from my hand. The dog snuffles in the frost covered grass and dead leaves by the side of the road, and I let my mind drift again.

Leaves - dead, brown, dry, brittle. It's funny how you don't really notice leaves until they're on the ground and you have to rake them into a pile by the road, or around a tree. You might notice their birth, as they brazenly begin to break forth in the spring. Or you might enjoy the shade that they give in the hot summer. You take pictures, or think about taking pictures, of their brilliant colors in the autumn.

And then they die. Bright oranges darken to a muddy brown, reds fade and dry, yellows begin to have age spots and know that their time is coming. Then, one by one, some in gusts, some gently, they fall from the trees. Death of the leaves. They drift and scatter, some crunching under feet, others moldering against the ground, wet and soft from rain and dew.

The raking begins. The great funeral we put on for the leaves. In the barren branches, the wind sings a requiem. We grab the rakes and head out to the yard, wearing sweatshirts and grumbling a bit. The piles by the road grows. So do the black plastic bags, funeral finery, the best send off we think to give the fallen leaves.

Frost comes, sometimes snow. The leaves lie forgotten. Dead and gone, they lived their lives, some noticed, some not. Like humans, some had brilliant glory, while others just hung in there, unnoticed, unremarked upon. Some leaves still linger, dead and shriveled on the trees, their empty shells, devoid of life, rattling in the wind.

My feet beat a cadence on the asphalt, and the rain tickles my face. Like the vivid leaves which one notices, I want to make a difference, be it ever so small and so easily forgotten as the leaves that come and go with the seasons. To burn out bright, so that you notice when it's gone.

Like leaves, humanity is tossed and battered by the turbulent winds of life. We can be different, each with our own color, shape, and size, like the tiny, but brilliant red of a Japanese maple or the big, bright yellow of a poplar. Or we can be uniform and drab, always doing whatever anyone else does, always going with the flow, like the millions of leaves on a willow-oak tree, small and slim, an unremarkable green that fades to an equally unremarkable brown.

God calls us to live a life that is different. We need to live each day knowing that we're making a difference with our lives, whether we will or no. And that difference needs to be a change for good, not for ill. What you say, the way you act - such a seemingly small or insignificant thing can, quite literally, change the world.

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